Review Roundup: HALFWAY BITCHES GO STRAIGHT TO HEAVEN - What Did the Critics Think?
Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Adly Guirgis takes his style to another level in this world premiere play about the harrowing, humorous, and heartbreaking inner workings of a women's halfway house in New York City, helmed by John Ortiz (LAByrinth Artistic Director) in his Off-Broadway directing debut.
Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven features Victor Almanzar (Between Riverside and Crazy), David Anzuelo (Se Llama Cristina), Elizabeth Canavan (Between Riverside and Crazy), Lucille Lortel Award winner Sean Carvajal (Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train, King Lear), Patrice Johnson Chevannes (The Homecoming Queen), Molly Collier (Salutations! I'm Creative Dave), Liza Colón-Zayas (Mary Jane, Between Riverside and Crazy), Esteban Andres Cruz (Off-Broadway Debut), Greg Keller (Do You Feel Anger?), Wilemina Olivia-Garcia (Dutch Heart Of Man), Kristina Poe (The Idea of Me), Neil Tyrone Pritchard (The Stowaway), Elizabeth Rodriguez ("Orange is the New Black," The Motherf#cker with the Hat), Andrea Syglowski (queens), Benja Kay Thomas (Barbecue), viviana valeria (Off-Broadway Debut), Pernell Walker (Seed), and Kara Young (The New Englanders).
Let's see what the critics are saying...
Ben Brantley, The New York Times: I'll admit that I spent the show's first 10 minutes or so in a state of slightly irritable resistance, seeing so many curmudgeonly eccentrics assembled for an in-house talent night. But it wasn't long before I succumbed to the surging vitality and diversity of its wayward throng of lost souls. When the script doesn't provide the individualizing details that transcend stereotypes, the performances do. And Guirgis makes sure that every person onstage is filled with the contradictions that are part and parcel of being human.
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: The production literally overflows the proscenium, with the action taking place not only on Narelle Sissons' expertly dilapidated two-level set but also in areas in front of and on the sides of the stage, while Alexis Forte's suitably frumpy costumes provide a further dose of realism. Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven, whose title stems from a poem recited by one of the teenage residents, doesn't fully live up to its considerable ambitions. But those ambitions are not to be taken lightly, nor for granted, in this work bursting with emotional life. The characters' rich humanity comes through loud and clear onstage, forcing us to confront a reality we might otherwise choose to avoid.
Robert Hofler, The Wrap: "Halfway Bitches" is a female "Iceman Cometh" for the 21st century, but watching it doesn't feel like five hours - or even three. You may feel you've had just enough time to get to know, and care about, these women. Guirgis ends with a simple line that all New Yorkers hear half a dozen times a day on the street. After seeing Guirgis' play, you will never look at that homeless person quite the same way.
Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: The play's fusillade of profanity-laced speeches may provide its loudest and most shocking moments. But its quieter scenes have the greater impact. Yes, Guirgis has an ear for the real and direct, and the excellent cast of Halfway Bitches bring it vibrantly to life. A better play would be shorter and more focused. The most piercing moments in Halfway Bitches are found when it takes a breath and modulates its volume.
Margaret Echeverria, New York Theatre Guide: I was so in it with this ensemble cast of characters in Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven, that I would have gladly spent three more hours with them. Raw human struggle served without a prescription for hope or cheerful poetic explanations to make white people feel better is happening at the Linda Gross Theater on West 20th Street, and you gotta go see it.